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Mass Effect 3 Preview

Pierre_Bienaime By:
PUBLISHER Electronic Arts 
M Contains Blood, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Shepard is looking tasty on Wii U.

Mass Effect 3 represents BioWare's first opus on a Nintendo console, and it will be part of the Wii U's launch lineup. Fans of the Big N left hungry for hardcore action games (I'll raise my hand on this one) will see in ME3 one instance of a hopefully more general trend: big, mature third-party games for the system. I recently got my hands on the Wii U port, GamePad and all. It was Mass Effect all right, but it will be inevitably compared to the game's original console outing.

The GamePad itself is fantastic. The tablet/controller hybrid, in all its high-definition glory, certainly has me excited for the Wii U and all its possibilities. ME3 for Wii U makes a mini-map out of it... primarily. Developers are keeping mum about how else it might serve. The mini-maps have been redrawn for Wii U, as opposed to recycled. Through them you know where your squad and your enemies are at, and you can also direct them by swiping a line from their icon. Finally, your squadmates' powers are also mapped onto the GamePad, making one-touch offense a possibility.

I didn't end up using these features much, though. When you're stressing out at a screen full of Cerberus goons, you'd rather do some gunning or freeze time to assign ass-kicking duties to your squad. Wasn't ME3's pause mechanic always a welcome break for reflection? Hotkeys on the GamePad make it easier to play real-time but maybe not be more attractive.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy Shepard is coming to the Wii U. Hopefully it will bring the game to a whole new crowd. And ME3 affords so many worthwhile experiences outside of combat that surely the GamePad could serve for other purposes: Quicker inventories? An added element to dialogue trees? Hacking mini-games? Incidentally, the game looks unbelievably crisp when playing on the GamePad as a handheld. You can do that by hitting the "Home" button, which also frees up the TV for lesser forms of entertainment. So go on playing in the corner, provided it isn't tucked away too far (15-20 feet is what I've heard) from the console.  

As for the Wii U Pro Controller, it may or may not get the call of duty. With developers keeping to a launch day release, that more conventional option is still up in the air. Finally, ME3 for the Wii U will contain the extended cut ending right out of the box... and an exclusive heavy weapon called the Ladon seen in the above screenshot. Dubbed "the problem solver" over at BioWare, this thing spits out six rockets at once. Huzzah! Still, I hope the publisher gives fans many more reasons to play (or replay) Shepard's third chapter on the Wii U.

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